The Portland Trail Blazers’ draft pick will hold significant value across the league.
If the ping pong balls bounce right at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 16 and Portland lands the No. 1 overall selection, Victor Wembanyama – the best prospect to enter the league since LeBron James – will change the course of the Blazers franchise.
If that pick lands at any spot other than No. 1, however, it likely becomes a desirable piece of trade bait as Portland General Manager Joe Cronin tries to acquire a superstar to pair with Damian Lillard in hopes of a winning a championship.
The Blazers’ pick holds the fifth-best odds (10.5 percent) at grabbing that top spot. What if we used Tankathon’s lottery simulator and simulated said lottery 10 times to see where that pick actually lands? And what does Portland do with it in each hypothetical scenario?
10 lottery sims, 10 Blazers draft outcomes
Tankathon’s NBA Draft Lottery Simulator is a handy and incredibly fun tool that, with a push of a button, randomizes the order of the first 14 picks in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The lottery odds are as follows:
- Detroit Pistons
- Houston Rockets
- San Antonio Spurs
- Charlotte Hornets
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Orlando Magic
- Indiana Pacers
- Washington Wizards
- Utah Jazz
- Dallas Mavericks
- Chicago Bulls
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Toronto Raptors
- New Orleans Pelicans
Here’s what happens when you push “sim lottery” 10 times and what Portland would do in each situation, taking trades out of the equation, because that just makes things less fun.
Lottery sim 1: No. 1 overall
Cronin, Lillard, head coach Chauncey Billups, and the rest of the Blazers franchise – and every Rip City fan on Earth – luck out on the first try.
The pick: Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitan 92
Wembanyama is a generational prospect. Height, length, athleticism, versatility, skill, shot creation, shot making, rim protection, rim running, emerging 3-point threat, on-ball defender, off-ball defender … Wembanyama can do everything, and he can do it at 7-foot-3. (Some scouts argue for 7-4 or even 7-5).
He looks like Kevin Durant, if Durant were at least three inches taller.
Lottery sim 2: No. 6 overall
In this scenario, the Blazers drop back a spot as their pick falls outside the top five, loses trade value, and sets Portland up for a lesser-heralded prospect.
The pick: Cam Whitmore, Villanova
The consensus top five based on numerous mock drafts has some order of Wembanyama, G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, Alabama forward Brandon Miller, and Overtime Elite twins Amen and Ausar Thompson coming off the board with the first handful of picks.
Whitmore in that “next tier” of prospects. At least for some people.
The Villanova freshman has yet to turn 19, is 6-7 and 230 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, and puts those dimensions to good use as a relentless driver and skilled finisher near the rim. He’s an above-average athlete and willing passer with a burgeoning offensive game. He’s a better prospect than either Thompson twin, according to this writer.
Lottery sim 3: No. 7 overall
Now Portland drops two spots instead of one.
The pick: Anthony Black, Arkansas
This could just as easily be Whitmore again, but to switch things up, the Blazers grab Black, a 6-7 point guard who might be the smartest player in the 2023 class.
He’s a pass-first playmaker and above-average defender who uses his height and length to find open looks for teammates on offense and hassle guards and wings on defense.
The 19-year-old is a natural passer from any area of the floor and an instinctive creator in the half court, which is only magnified by that height. He can run an offense or simply be a high-level connecting part of it, moving the ball and manipulating defenses.
The thing holding Black back from being a top-five pick is a shaky jump shot.
Lottery sim 4: No. 2 overall
This decision wouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Either it’s traded for a legitimate star and Lillard is still in Portland, or Dame is traded and this becomes the first pick in a complete franchise rebuild.
The pick: Brandon Miller, Alabama
If Lillard is gone, Henderson could be an option as a guard replacement, but Miller is too good of a player and too good of a fit to ignore.
Miller would slot in perfectly as a 6-9 wing alongside Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, creating a core three that would mesh together well to help Portland move into the future. Miller is already a good shooter from deep, having shot a high percentage on a high volume at Alabama, and shows the potential to become a scorer from all three levels.
He’s also an underrated playmaker with defensive upside because of his length and athleticism.
Lottery sim 5: No. 7 overall
Our first repeat of this exercise.
The pick: Jarace Walker, Houston
If not Whitmore or Black, Walker would be a good addition to a post-Lillard roster or even a good fit if Dame is still around.
Walker is physically intimidating at 6-8 and 240 pounds with a 7-2 wingspan and is still only 18 years old. His length, strength, athleticism, IQ, and activity make him a defensive menace.
Offensively, Walker has nice touch around the rim, is a solid playmaker, and shows some potential to be a secondary option as a scorer if given the opportunity. He has yet to really tap into a possibly massive upside.
Lottery sim 6: No. 7 overall
This is becoming a trend now. Hopefully one that doesn’t carry over to lottery night.
The pick: Cason Wallace, Kentucky
Wallace is a Jrue Holiday clone as a 6-4 guard with a 6-8 wingspan who plays stronger than he looks. He’s tough, long, determined, smart, and will gladly take on the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s best scorer.
Much like Holiday, he’s an above-average spot-up shooter and a floor general who makes smart reads, smart passes, and doesn’t turn the ball over much.
Lottery sim 7: No. 6 overall
The draft gods seem angry with Portland on this hypothetical lottery night.
The pick: Dereck Lively II, Duke
If the Blazers want to take a major swing on pure upside, Lively II wouldn’t be a terrible choice.
The 7-1 center was a five-star recruit and significant get for the Blue Devils out of high school, but he underwhelmed until late in his freshman campaign. Still, his physical tools and potential offensive skill set have him working his way up the pre-draft rankings.
Lively II has great athleticism and soft hands, which make him an ideal rim runner in pick-and-roll situations. He is quick to turn defense into offense as well, often sprinting down the court and heading straight for the rim where those same skills come into play.
His immediate impact would come on the defensive end, where his athleticism, length, and agility point to an elite rim protector with the ability to switch onto smaller players.
Lottery sim 8: No. 3 overall
Anything below the first pick and above the fifth pick would be a priceless trade asset. In this scenario, the Blazers could collect a haul in a trade for the third pick in a three-player draft (meaning there’s a significant drop-off after the first three prospects).
The pick: Whoever’s left of Miller or Henderson
Miller would still be the ideal fit if he’s on the board, but that doesn’t seem as much of a given as it was heading into the year.
Henderson is the most explosive player in this class. He and Sharpe would form perhaps the most athletic backcourt in the NBA from day one. Henderson wants to humiliate any defender in front of him and can usually do so with his off-the-dribble burst, intensity, and finishing ability.
Other than being a shaky spot-up shooter, there isn’t much the 19-year-old can’t do offensively. He can win in isolation and pick-and-roll situations, can stop on a dime and rise up for jumpers, and can contort himself to finish in just about any way possible at the rim.
He’s a 6-2 guard – both the Blazers and their fans know what that situation can turn into defensively. But Scoot’s activity, athleticism, and hungry playing style make him a strong defender against other guards
Lottery sim 9: No. 7 overall
The pick: Gradey Dick, Kansas
Whitmore, Black, and Walker would be the preferable choices, but in this scenario, Cronin takes Dick, a 6-8 sharpshooter who has more in his offensive bag than the pure shooters who came before him like Kyle Korver.
Dick averaged more than 14 points a game and shot better than 40 percent from three in his lone collegiate season, so if nothing else, he’ll be a valuable floor spacer. He also showed some playmaking skills, however, and the basketball IQ to find empty spots on the court to cut to the rim and finish.
He’s athletic enough to attack closeouts and get to the basket, and long enough to finish over bigger defenders or kick the ball out to open shooters.
He’s not a complete liability on defense, either, despite his lack of elite athleticism or agility. He’s long and is one of those annoying defenders who find a way to get to a spot and take charges or poke the ball away from opposing ballhandlers.
Lottery sim 10: No. 2 overall
At least we’re ending things on a positive note.
The pick: Miller
Landing Wemby, even in 1 out of 10 scenarios, is a win, and the Blazers bookended their 10 lottery sims with the No. 1 and No. 2 overall selections. Landing inside the top three 4 out of 10 times isn’t bad either. Hopefully Portland just avoids that pesky pick seven.